FATDOG 2017 & DOGCAT 2

Roll up for more modern boardgaming events with FATDOG 2017 and DOGCAT 2: Revenge of DOGCAT.

These events have many things in common:

  • Come along if you are interested in the growing modern boardgaming hobby. Enjoy modern fun boardgames such as Ticket to Ride or Catan.
  • The events are free to attend. Please RSVP so that we know the numbers to expect.
  • The events are beginner friendly. There will be plenty of fun, and engaging modern boardgames to play.
  • Come for an hour, or stay for the whole day.
  • You do not need to own, nor know, any boardgames games. People are happy to teach the games to others.

FATDOG 2017

FATDOG 2017 is on Friday, the 24th of November in Oxnard. To RSVP, or for more details you can check out the event on Meetup or on Facebook. This is the 6th year that the Ventura County Startegy Boardgamers Meetup have held a FATDOG event. Each year they have gone from strength to strength.


DOGCAT 2017

DOGCAT 2: Revenge of DOGCAT is on Saturday, the 25th of November in Ventura. To RSVP, or for more details you can check out the event on Meetup or on Facebook. This is the second year that we have organized an evnt on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.


Any questions? Ask below, or post a comment on Meetup or on Facebook against the event that you are interested in attending.  Also check out our Facebook group where we discuss boardgaming around Ventura County.

Many thanks to Ryan and April-Lyn for arranging the venues.

Tim
15th November 2017. Edited for a typo.

FATDOG means Friday After Thanksgiving Day of Gaming. It’s just a name for our full day of gaming.

DOGCAT means Days of Gaming Continuing After Thanksgiving. It’s just another goofy and fun name..

31 Consecutive Days Of Gaming

Last month I decided to see how many consecutive days could go by where I played at least one boardgame each day. All the games were face-to-face with human players, and with the actual physical games. No online or app plays counted towards the totals. No children were used nor harmed in this endeavor.
Yesterday I hit the milestone of 100 games played over 31 consecutive days. This is with over 89 gamers in 11 different locations. This info was supplied by the BGStats app, and the BoardGameGeek website.
31 days Capture

The feat of cardboard exploitation started by accident when I noticed that my local gaming group had gaming events over 5 consecutive days. It was made easier as I was also attending two gaming conventions on consecutive weekends. The big boost is that I am lucky to have a very active local gaming scene. Here is a shameless plug for my local Meetup group. I am the main organizer of the VCSB Meetup group and we meet around 4-5 times a week.

This still left some event free days. My long suffering gf has helped to fill in some gaps in the calendar. Being a sneaky person, I have used this as an opportunity to introduce her to some new games. Mwwhhahha. I was quite proud when she beat me at 7 Wonders Duel the other night. She was also very happy that she did not need to feed her people in that game. She hates Stone Age. 😦
The shortest game play in time was either Rhino Hero or Qwixx. Some of those games took only a few minutes. The longest game play was 12 hours playing Here I Stand (500th Anniversary Edition) with 5 other players. Some of the games were playtest games of games yet to be published. For purely social games like Concept; the one game play logged consisted of at least a dozen rounds.
 
My game plays are logged via the BoardGameGeeek website or the BGStats app. I have used both BGG, BGstats and the friendlessstats website to look at the game play data.
 
It is fair to admit that I am a tad OCD when it comes to logging my plays. I have been logging my game plays for just over 10 years. So far I have logged over 3800 game plays of over 600 different games.
My total game play H-Index is 27. That means that I have played 27 games a total of 27 times each. For more details about logging game plays please see this article https://venturacountyboardgamers.com/articles/logging-your-game-plays/
This game playing streak has helped towards my Twisted 10×10 Challenge for 2017.
10x10 Challenge
10×10 Challenge as per 24th October 2017
This year is looking to be a good year of gaming. One of my goals for the 10×10 Challenge was to increase the number of games that I played for two specific areas. These were firstly games that are published by GMT Games. I felt that I was not playing there games often enough. Secondly, I wanted to play more wargames (aka historical themed) games by publishers other than GMT Games. SO far I have met, and exceeded my goal. The 10×10 Challenge caused me to review my game playing patterns. It is easier to play non-wargames, as there are more people who are willing to play eurogames.
Some game play stats for 2017
Some game play stats for 2017
By the way, I am gaming tonight. The streak continues!
My username on BoardGameGeek is oi_you_nutter. You can see my game information in my profile. Let me know if you have questions on game logging, or any questions about my sanity, or the games that I play.
Tim
24th October 2017

Board Games And Beer on 25th June 2017 – After Action Report

Last Sunday, the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers held an event at McGregors Craft Beer & Wine, in Moorpark, CA from 2pm until closing time. Although this is not the first time we have held an event at a commercial location. This is the first time we had held an event at an establishment that primarily serves alcohol. In addition, this was the first time we had held an event in Moorpark. I was interested if this was a draw or if it would put people off.

 

McGregors was chosen as it has all the attributes of a good public gaming location. It is clean, and bright; there are plenty of large normal-height tables. It serves beer, wine, and bar friendly snack foods. Having plenty of parking is a big plus.

As it was a public event I am expecting, and hoping, that some of the bars patrons would join in with the games. In reality, we had a few interested patrons looking at the games, and asking a few questions.

 

As an introductory game we played several rounds of Concept, both as a warm up game, and as a closer to wind down. I even got in a game of Battlestar Galactica.

concept pic1907628
Image from BGG

We will have plenty of games at hand as we were not sure what types of gamers we would have attending. It is always best to be prepared with a mixture of games, both in game length, and in complexity. With 8 people gathered around a big table we broke out Ca$h n Guns as a ice breaker. Soon people settled into a mixture of longer, and more involved games.

In total we had 17 people actually play the games, two were newcomers to the group. The event was a success, and everyone had good things to say about the location. I had expected more newcomers, but I am happy with the way the event went overall.

I was introduced to a young lad called Calvin, from the nearby Game Development Meetup group. They hold monthly events to create, collaborate and develop games.

Let me know if you have an ideas, or suggestions, for the next McGregors event. I am thinking it could be a monthly event. Is Sunday the best day for such an event ?

30th June 2017

Links:

Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers event page on Meetup.

Event page on Facebook.

McGregors website and Facebook page.

144 Los Angeles Ave, Moorpark, CA 93021

Tel 805-553-9818

Board Games And Beer – 25th June 2017

This Sunday, the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers are holding an event at McGregors Craft Beer & Wine, in Moorpark, CA from 2pm-8pm.

Although this is not the first time we have held an event at a commercial location. This is the first time we had held an event at an establishment that primarily serves alcohol. Therefore there is a minimum age of 21.

McGregors was chosen as it has all the attributes of a good public gaming location. It is clean, and bright, has lots of free parking, there are plenty of large tables, and it serves beer, and beer friendly snack food. And wine too.

As this is a public event I am expecting, and hoping, that some of the bars patrons will join in. We will have plenty of games that are suitable for non-gamers to play. Games that are quicker, and lighter, to get them hooked. Mwhhahhaa.

Tim
20th June 2017

Links:

Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers event page on Meetup.

Event page on Facebook.

McGregors website and Facebook page.
144 Los Angeles Ave, Moorpark, CA 93021
Tel 805-553-9818

A Good Dog Is Hard To Photograph…

A Good Dog Is Hard To Photograph…and so is a board game.

For the past month or so we have had a regular canine visitor on Tuesday nights. Our host, Greg, has been bringing along his adorable labradoodle called Fletcher. Now dogs, and board games are not always a good combination. This is especially so for a rather large, and rambunctious dog like Fletcher. This dog is a people pooch. He has a great personality, and evidently enjoys the attention of a large crowd of friendly humans. We dote on him. Luckily for us, and the games, Fletcher is a very well behaved dog. He does not jump up on people when he gets excited. His tail is very powerful, yet he keeps it below the table height. Good doggie!

Fletcher
A rare, in focus, photo of Fletcher
Fletcher
A tail strong enough to clear a game table in seconds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Fletcher firmly being part of our Tuesday night gang, it is only reasonable that I have been including photographs of him in my gaming pictures. Each gaming session I endeavor to take photographs of the games, and the gamers. If you look back at the Photo Gallery of the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers Meetup group you will see thousand of photos of our gaming sessions. If I creative I tag people, and add the name of the game as a title.overall, this photos are a little meh. They lack pizazz and ooomph.

More recently, I have been creating  montages with the photos. You can see a whole bunch of these montages on a separate page linked here.

Click on an individual picture for a larger version.

These montages add context to a plain photograph. The game title is included, which is always a wise thing to do. This helps to fend off the “what game is that?” questions. It is also a good idea to include the date, location, and any other useful information. If possible include a little anecdotal comment to liven up the scene. Like in this example here.

High Frontier Capture
High Frontier
A photo montage with some anecdotal comments

The unexpected side effect of these montages is that I am thinking more about what, and how, I photograph. I am still taking lots of photos, but I am posting less of them. The photographs that I am using are better quality than the photos that I was posting before I started creating the photo montages.

This brings me to the point that I want to make about photos of games, and of gamers. Just like taking photos of a dog, it is hard to take good photographs of gamers.

Gamers move around a lot while they are playing games. It is not fair to continuously interrupt the games to take posed pictures. It is not fair to distract people when they are deep in thought, or taking their turn. This method often results in unusable photos.

As an example, here is a photo from last night. It shows some of the lads playing Viticulture. Jonathon is smirking, as per normal, while Ryan, and Matthew are concentrating on the game. Ben, on the other hand, is a blur.

Blurry Ben
Blurry Ben playing Viticulture

The only solution is to take lots of photos, and hope that you have some good ones. I have lot’s of pictures where all but one person are smiling, or posing nicely for the camera. The one person barely looks like a human being. At a pinch you can still use these flawed pictures, but it is wise to crop or edit the picture so the photos are presentable. If you are concerned about what content is acceptable, play it safe.

It is always wise to avoid posting unflattering pictures.

As I am thinking more and more about what photos I am taking I had a revelation. I had come to the realization that I was often taking two types of photo.

This examples below show James, Ryan, and Bob playing Mech Vs. Minions.


The distance shot is the best way to show the people playing the game. This is where the players are the focus of the photo.

James, Ryan, and Bob playing Mechs Vs. Minions
James, Ryan, and Bob playing Mechs Vs. Minions

The closeup shot is to show the art, or the details, of the game itself. It is hard to combine both into one photo.

A miniature from Mechs Vs. Minions
A miniature from Mechs Vs. Minions

Together they make a great combination set to show off the game, and the players.

 

The key points to remember about taking and posting photos are:

  • Take lots of pictures.
  • Take closeup detail pictures of the game components.
  • Take distance pictures of the players.
  • Post pictures that are interesting.
  • Post pictures that show the games, and the gamers in a good light.
  • Edit, or crop photos to remove bad content.
  • Do not post pictures that are not flattering.

Tim

Associated Articles

Running A Game Group – Photo/Social Media Policy

 

 

 

 

A Staggered Start, and Dice Still Hate Me

It is frustrating when people show up late, and people are already firmly set into long games. It’s frustrating for me as a group organizer, and I know it’s annoying for those who rushed to get there, and then find it is hurry up and wait. Wait until a game finishes, or hope someone else turns up late too. Even worse than that is when people stop showing up if they think that arriving late will not allow them to get into a game.

The staggered/delayed start was implemented for the first time on Tuesday night. To understand the problem, see a previous blog post. Basically, some people were having a problem getting to the meetup for an earlier start time of 6:00pm. With 28 in attendance this Tuesday, compared to 21 last week, I regard that as a promising increase in numbers. At least 4 people said they could benefit by having the option to start a little later. The key to making it work is communication, it’s people letting the rest of us know that they will be arriving later than the 6:00pm normal start time.

Games played of Tuesday included: Loco, World Monuments, Ticket To Ride, Circus Flohcati, Eclipse, Terra Mystica, Terraforming Mars, Archer Love Letter, Speicherstadt, Legendary Encounters (Alien) x2, Crimson Creek, Hawaii, Boss Monster, Steam, Castles of Burgundy, Clank!, and Battlestar Galactica x2.

The expected side effect of delaying our start of Battlestar Galactica was that we had a full quorum. We had an option to play 5 or 6 player. We went with the 5 experienced players.  BSG is a tough, and time consuming, game to teach. So we were happy to crack on, and simply start playing with the experienced players. BSG is one of the go-to games on a Tuesday night, a familiar friend that allows people to simply play the game without fuss, or delay.

Both myself and Dodgy John, were cylons in both games. We won both games too. In the first game it was obvious that Morale was the Resource to target. That allows you to focus on lowering that Resource. In the second game, however, there were multiple paths to victory. There were multiple Centurions on the boarding track, Galactica was suffering from damage, the Resources were getting hit, and there were plenty of cylon Raiders milling around Galactica itself. This is one of the reasons why BSG is such an engaging game. Whether you are a human, or a cylon, each player must decide what is the priority, both in the short term, and the log term. Ignore the wrong thing and it could be disaster for your side. Sometimes, discussing the threats, and openly co-operating is a good idea. In other times you do not want to reveal your options to the other side. This is especially so when you do not know the allegiance of the other players. Paranoia over who you can trust is a key part of the game.

With multiple threats to the humans, each of them had a possibility to bring victory to the cylons. What does a cylon do ? You have to weigh up the choices to see what strategy, or strategies, are most likely to work. This is where you have to use your experience of the game, coupled with the current game state, and analyze the characters around the table to make your choice. Then you do all you can to make it work for your side.

Five damaged location on Galactica
Five damaged locations on Galactica.

With lot’s of cylon Raiders around Galactica, 18 to be precise, we went for causing damage on Galactica: I rolled the d8 (the game uses only eight sided dice) the required 18 times. Each 8 rolled would cause Damage on Galactica. I rolled zero (0) 8’s on 18 dice. I laughed, the other players laughed. John, my fellow cylon, exclaimed about how useless I was. He then rolled the same number of dice, and got four 8’s. Human Mike, playing the Chief character negated two of the four 8’s by playing Calculations cards from his hand. Galactica was still alive, but only just.

The cylons still won the game, we advanced the Centurions and vented the atmosphere of Galactica. The humans needed air, they had none.

The cylons won!

Dice still hate me!

I am ok with that.


A new board game Meetup group has started in nearby Agoura Hills. It is called Conejo Valley Boardgames. They are meeting for the first time this coming Saturday at a cafe in Agoura Hills. The organizer, Patrick, has also signed up for next Tuesday night.

Don’t Mess With the Formula

Last Tuesday night we had the lowest attendance in years with a total of 21. This is the same Tuesday night that, six months ago, we were having well over 30. We often had people on the waiting list during the day, and just dipping under the maximum limit of 35 by the time the meetup started.

As I am a little detail orientated, please don’t laugh, I keep an eye on the attendance of each meetup. I do this for a variety of reasons. With space at a premium it is wise to make sure that we get maximum number of butts on seats. It also helps to identify the small minority who RSVP, and then don’t show up. Every now and then we get a flakey person, and for repeat offenders I contact them reminding them to keep their RSVP up to date. It is a shame when a regular cannot attend due to lack of space, and we find there was actually enough space for them because someone else did not attend. Simply not being bothered to update their RSVP is a poor excuse.

The attendance figures on Tuesday have been consistently in the low 30’s for a long time. We have been meeting weekly at this location for over 5 years. For all intents and purposes the Tuesday group just kept on trucking.

And then it changed.

The attendance numbers dropped, and then did not pick up again.

What the $%^&$ had happened?

Some thoughts came to mind about the possible cause for a dip in attendance.

  • Season variation.  The attendance numbers tend to drop around the holiday season.
  • Too much choice: The VCSB meetup group was now having 3-4 meetups a week. Were people suffering from gaming fatigue ?
  • Cascade effect. When certain regulars are not attending it is harder to get the optimum numbers of players for certain games. This can cascade such that other regulars do not attend as often.
  • We changed the start time. The start time on Tuesday had been 6:30pm for many years. In October of 2016 we changed the start time to 6:00pm.

Now there was a reason why I did not immediately suspect the start time change  was the culprit for the attendance drop. As I listed above, there was often a seasonal drop due to the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday season. When January came around I honestly expected the numbers to pick up again.

Secondly, most of the people arrived early. The Tuesday group had it’s own pattern that people arrived early for the 6:30pm start. With people arriving early, there were often games setup and going by the official 6:30pm start time. This caused people to arrive even earlier to ensure they got into games. Frankly, it sucks to arrive a little late and find that most people are already settled into long games.

The Eureka Moment

It was only after I spoke to a ex-regular did I realize that the 30 minutes difference had made all the difference to them. Those extra minutes allow enough time for a tough commute, or allow people to grab some food before the meetup.

What annoyed me, a little, was that no one had told me before. It had taken months before I found out the probable cause of the dip in attendance. It is not like this was something new. We often had people arrive a little late, they would arrange their games in advance and people would wait for them to arrive.

The Plan

There had to be a way forward. There had to be a way to accommodate those who could not reliably, or safely, get to the meetup for the 6:00pm start time. After a little thought, and a few emails, I believe we have a solution. It will require some organization, and good communication, but it should work. From tomorrow, May the 16th, we are having a delayed start time for specific games. The games are named in advance, and those interested in playing must state they are committing to those games with a 6:30pm start.

My role, as group organizer, will be to make sure that people wait for these later arrivals, and to keep up to date with communications to ensure that we don’t hang around waiting for an individual to arrive who is not coming.

Sound simple, yeah ? We shall see how it goes.

Despite the lower attendance numbers last Tuesday, there was still a good variety of games played.

1Capture
Aquasphere – 9th May 2017
2Capture
Trajan etc – 9th May 2017
3Capture
Flamme Rouge + Clank! – 9th May 2017
4Capture
Terraforming Mars etc – 9th May 2017

 

Can 30 Minutes Make A Difference ?

Yes, is my answer.

 

Tim

 

Board Gaming As A Social Solution.

Although is article may seem to be focused on my demographic, i.e. middle aged men. In fact it is aimed at showing the positive social benefits of board gaming as a modern leisure pursuit.

Middle Aged Male Loneliness

A recent article by the Boston Globe highlights a number of problems that afflict middle aged men. There are the obvious health threats like cancer, heart disease, or obesity. The one issue the article highlights is that of loneliness, or isolation. The gist of the article is that most middle aged men have to focus on their work and home commitments at the expense of their own social life. As a result, old relationships drift apart, regular social events stop being regular and people become more isolated. And a side affect of being isolated is that it is bad for your health.

“That’s why Schwartz and others say the best way for men to forge and maintain friendships is through built-in regularity — something that is always on the schedule.”

Let us first look at the regular social activities that would appeal to middle aged males.

Common Middle Aged Male Pursuits

It is hard for a busy adult to justify taking time away from their responsibilities. For arguments sake let us look at some examples of leisure activities for might appeal to a middle aged man.

  • Go to a bar: The negatives here are obvious, booze. Booze is costly, too much alcohol is bad for you. Let alone the negative social aspects of using drink as the center of a social activity. As a cause of spousal friction, this one is one of the worst options for a regular social activity.
  • Fantasy Football/Going Fishing: Regardless of the excuse, the activity is to consume booze with the boys. This is similar to going to a bar, booze is the focus.
  • Eating out: Food is the excuse, getting out is the goal. Food costs money, and it is probably not very healthy too.
  • Reading: Do not get me wrong, I love reading. I have many books that I want to read. Reading is a nice distraction, but it is not being social.
  • Online Games: These are a fun distraction. Along with booze this will probably a big cause of spousal friction. Online gaming may give a semblance of social interaction, it is not the same as interacting with a real person face to face without a computer.
  • Take up a hobby at home: Just like reading, this is good ‘me‘ time. This has a number of downsides; space, cost, and the lack of social interaction element that is apparent with solo activities. Do not under estimate the benefit of having time spent away from the home.
  • Work, church, family: For many people these are the extent of their social circles. We meet up with mostly the same people, and do the same things. There may be a lack of variety in the people, and the activities these group undertake.

While there may well be pressure to spend time with the family, and to concentrate on our responsibilities. I hope you would agree that middle aged men need regular social activities for their emotional, and physical, well-being.

Not Just For Middle Aged Men

Are they the only demographic that can feel isolated due to the hectic modern way of life? I think not. Targeting just middle aged men with 2.3 kids is losing sight of how out society has changed. An ever growing social issue is the narrowing of the social lives for many adults. With our lives being more hectic it is harder to maintain wide social circles.

Social isolation is not just a problem for middle aged men.

Board Games As A Solution

Board games have now become another reason to get together with people. The board games are the focus. For me they have become my go-to excuse to have quality time interacting with people who I enjoy spending time with.

Enjoying a drink, or some food, is a perfectly fine accompaniment to many social activities. This includes board games. They do help to lubricate and promote social interaction, just remember two things. Keep the food and drink to a reasonable amount. Secondly, keep the food and drink away from the games.

spilled drink
Spills happen!

Board Games Is An Inclusive Hobby

Board games are not just for children, they never were just for children. Nowadays there are so many board games there are enough choice there is something to appeal to everyone. There are games for all ages, and experience levels. What comes as a surprise to many is the variety of choice in modern board games. The board game related website BoardGameGeek.com has a database of over 89,000 board and card games.

It is hard for a busy adult to justify taking time away from their responsibilities. Instead of feeling guilt at taking time apart is is possible to make gaming time into shared time.

Having a board game night with some food and drink is also a way to bring along the spouse. The gamers can get together and play some games while the non-gamers can mingle. With the inclusion of some fun, lighter or party games it is possible to appeal to the gamers and non-gamers alike. A great way to involve all types of people is to play a fun party type game like Telestrations.

Modern board games can appeal to everyone.

What never ceases to amaze me are the variety of different people who enjoy modern board games. The ages, races, religions, and professions of gamers are extremely varied. The glue for these people spending time together is their shared enjoyment of board games. This allows people to interact with others that they would normally not socialize with.

I believe it is very beneficial to socialize with people outside of the standard family, work, and church social circles. Board gaming is a great way to socialize.

The Other Benefits of Modern Board Gaming

The obvious benefit of playing modern board games is to have a fun time interacting with other human beings. What will surprise some people are the other, unforeseen, benefits that people can derive from playing modern board games. Here are some of these hidden benefits:

  • Interact with a wide variety of people.
  • Challenge yourself to do well at the games.
  • Polish your interpersonal skills.
  • Form new social relationships.
  • You will make new friends.
  • Time spent away from the digital devices.
  • Share fun times with other people.
  • Family game night with games that are actually fun to play.
  • Teach your kids life skills. For example: how to win , or lose with grace and dignity.
  • Learn analysis, or negotiation skills.

Board games have a lot to offer people. The image of board games is that of simple children’s games that have little place for grown adults. This is not the case. They have benefits that are very relevant to today’s society. Join a game group, or form you own. Find out for yourself.

Tim

20th March 2017

Note: Do not misunderstand me on a few aspects that I mention above. As a social introvert I need my alone time, my ‘me’ time. People need time to recharge themselves; introverts  need to do that alone, and extroverts need time around other people. See an article at the bottom for a great graphic on the subject. The key point is knowing what works for you, and then making sure that you get the type of ‘me’ time that works best for you.

Secondly, as any one you knows me will attest, I also like to enjoy the odd drink. When I look back at my younger days I realize that drink was the excuse to be sociable with people. Having a drink as the motivation then forces people to drink more. And we all know that is not good for many reasons.

 Other Articles

Know an introvert ? This is a interesting article on how introverts, and extroverts, recharge. The graphic below is a great visual representation of the differences.

how_to_live_with_introverts_guide_printable_by_sveidt-d5b09fj
The Introvert Files

Mid-March Update

As part of an ongoing process I have started to collate my list of useful game links.

While looking for some other photos, I found a bunch from the special one-day events that I help to organize back in 2012. A a tease here is a montage for our first FATDOG event. The full article can be found here.

FATDOG 2012
FATDOG 2012 Montage

As part of my ongoing goal of increasing the number of gamers, and game groups, who log their game plays. I had added a thread to BGG with a few polls.  From that feedback it looks like lots of people are logging their games played. There are many detractors, yet so far I have only convinced 1 (one) gamer to start logging. Success!

Tim – 14th March 2017